Thursday, June 30, 2016

Relational over Religious

Relational over Religious

Anyone can be religious, being a religious person doesn't make you a Christian or a committed follower of Jesus Christ.  Religion is people doing or believing something out of obligation or belief system that may or may not be true, and also maybe keeping some traditions, or doing some rituals, or having some basic beliefs, but religion doesn't save you and religion doesn't grow or mature faith in Christ. 

Only a relationship with Jesus Christ after accepting His gift and process of salvation is not only what saves you, but helps you grow in your faith and commitment to God.  Religion has you jumping through hoops and going through the motions, while a relationship is something that can be nurtured, grown, and deepened.

God doesn't want a bunch of religious people, God wants to have a relationship with each of us.  God sent His son Jesus to pay the penalty of our sins, so that we could have an opportunity to have a relationship with Him. Through Jesus and only through Jesus can you and me have forgiveness of sins, access to God, salvation, and be right in the eyes of God.  If we accept this gift and are baptized into Christ, we receive this gift of salvation and also the Holy Spirit of God.

God gave us His Son, He gives us His Spirit, and He allows us to be a part of His Church body and a child of His, and religion or being religious does none of those things, only our commitment to our relationship with Him.  Imagine you treated your earthly relationships like religion and not relationships, how would they look like?  God doesn't want our empty words, rituals, sacrifices, or habitual routines, what He wants is us.  He wants to have a personal and intimate relationship with His children.  We need to enter a relationship with Jesus and then develop and deepen that relationship by getting to know Him more and more every day.

We build our relationship with Jesus by spending time with Him through our reading and study of the Word of God(the Bible), through our prayer life and talking to God often and regularly, through our worship, service, and participation in the body of Christ as a member (the Church) and also through the Holy Spirit that dwells in us.  There are lots of ways to have and build our relationship with God.

I want to encourage and challenge you today to choose relationship over religion.  Don't gamble with your salvation or eternity thinking being a religious person or having religious beliefs, or doing religious things will save your or get you to heaven.  Only a relationship with and through Jesus Christ will we be saved and experience God.

May you discover, develop, or deepen that relationship with the Son of God today!

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Building up

Building UP

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

I think this is one of the greatest scriptures in the Bible.  Because it's a reminder and a much needed command that we need to not only encourage one another, but also build each other up.  Now  in the case of the Thessalonians that Apostle Paul was writing to, He told them to do it, but also stated: "Just as in fact you are doing" meaning they already were encouraging each other and building up each other.

Let that sink in for a minute. He tells the church there to encourage and build each other up, but also notes they are already doing it!  That's great news!  What an awesome compliment to the church there.  Can that be said or your church wherever you're a member?  Can that be said of you?

God wants us as Christ followers and members of His Church to be an encouragement to one another and also to build each other up.  Encouragement and building up each other go hand in hand. We all need to be encouraged and we all need to be built up because life is tough and it's easy to get distracted, discouraged, overwhelmed, angry, or sidetracked in this world. God understands that this is a sinful broken world and the people in it can cause us to be broken down and discouraged, so the last place we need to experience it is by other Christians or in the Church.

Too many times us Christians and church folk get all selfish and self-absorbed and we think church is about us and everything has to be the way we like it, want it, and the way we'd do it. It is then we began to complain, gripe, criticize, and throw our opinions around.  It is when people are like this that others get tore down and discouraged by these types of attitudes and actions. It hurts the church and Jesus when we are being negative, stirring up strife, or chronically criticizing and complaining.

Folks can spend so much time focused on themselves or their petty issues and opinions that they don't take the time to realize the impact or effect they have on others or the Church.  They are literally discouraging and tearing down others and the Church from the inside out. This my friends is sin.

I want to encourage you to use your words, your voice, and your attitudes for encouraging others and building up others.  I want to build you up today and remind you that you can change and do better and be better.  We are all capable and gifted to encourage others and build each other up.  If you think about it, as a Church member we are all a part in the body of Christ and we all make up the whole body of Christ.  Therefore, we each when we work together and see the good in each other can encourage and build each other up and the end result will be the body of Christ being built up and God getting all the glory and worship and the body being in harmony and unity, one.

The reason we are Christians is to be "like-Christ" and when we become Christians we become a part of the body of Christ(the Church) and the Church represents Christ on this earth until He returns for His Church.  So, with that in mind think about this, would Jesus discourage others or be discouraging to others? Would Jesus tear others down with His words, motives, actions, or attitude? Absolutely not!!!!  Jesus is our example of how we are to treat others.   Let's represent Him well as the Church and wear His name proudly as Christians by encouraging one another and building each other up!

Start looking for the good and positive in others and stop focusing on what you'd do, or how you'd do it, or what you like or don't like or your opinion.  Look for ways to be encouraging to others and build up others.  When you're busy and focused on encouraging and building up others, it will bless you and honor God  and it will inspire others!

Be encouraged and built up today and do the same for others!